A fan-favorite in the 90′s, Matt Bullard was kind enough to answer several questions about our beloved Houston Rockets. Bullard and Clyde Drexler share color commentating duties alongside play-by-play man Bill Worrell on CSN Houston broadcasts. Bullard can also be heard once a week talking Houston Rockets with Charlie Pallilo on SportsTalk 790.
Q: We are just over a quarter of the way through the season and the Rockets are standing with a 15-7 record. Have they exceeded your expectations or are you a bit disappointed?
A: I understand how difficult it is to put a good team together and how difficult it is to win in this league. I believe the Rockets now have the right pieces on the team. Now, it will take some time for the players to grow together, mature, and gain experience. Looking back on our ’94 Championship team, we were together for several years, experienced heartbreaking losses (game 7 vs. Sonics in ’93, for example), and grew together out of those tough losses. This current team will need be hardened by those fires before they are a true championship caliber team.
A: They are great players, 2 of the top 10 players in the league. But, they will have to do a lot of winning before they are better than Clyde and Dream. I hope they can stay healthy. TMac and Yao weren’t as successful as they could have been, due to injuries.
Q: Omer Asik is rumored to be on the way out of Houston. Do you think the hopes of an Asik/Howard lineup were farfetched to begin with? Do you think they could have played better given more time?
A: I like that McHale gave them a chance to play together, but it clearly was not the best lineup the Rockets have. I also like having great backups at all the positions. Unfortunately, with the salary cap and luxury tax in the NBA, having highly paid backups is a luxury that is hard to afford. These are the hard decisions that GMs have to make all the time.
Q: Terrence Jones has stepped up big time for the Rockets this season. Do you see the Rockets trying to acquire another “stretch-four” to replace Jones, or has he solidified his spot in the lineup?
A: TJones has played very well! Congrats to him for stepping up and solidifying his starting spot. His play at both ends of the floor has been exactly what the team was hoping for from him. The 4 spot is not nearly as big a concern now that he is playing well.
Q: Jeremy Lin is having an excellent season coming off the bench in Houston. What have you noticed different about him this season?
A: He seems much more comfortable with who he has become, Jeremy Lin the international basketball star. As you can imagine, going from an unknown 12th man to an international star in a couple weeks is incredibly hard to deal with. Jeremy has learned how to deal with that external pressure and just play his game. He’s improved his jumper through hard work and his confidence has grown. His never quit mentality is his biggest strength.
A: The Rockets depth is definitely uncommon in the NBA. And that depth has been tested early by injuries. Their depth is a strength that McHale uses very well during games, and from game to game. Championship caliber teams must have a deep bench.
Q: Chandler Parsons seems to keep getting better and better, and is playing at an All-Star level this season. What can we expect from him over the next several seasons?
A: Chandler is playing at a very high level, despite painful back spasms. He’s going to need to get healthy and not let the back injury linger. It’s hard for him to sit out, he realizes how important he is to the team’s success. He is critical to the Rockets success on the floor, and in the locker room. I’m hoping he can get healthy and have a long, All Star caliber career…in a Rockets uniform.
Q: You have been very active on Twitter over the constant flopping in the NBA. Do you think the new fine policies have helped eliminate flopping? What would you suggest the NBA do to try and stop the flop?
A: The fine system has reduced the flopping, but, if the NBA wants to get serious about eliminating it, bigger fines and more public ridicule will be necessary. Stopping the flop is important to me because I have a son who plays High School basketball. I see high school players mimicking the NBA players by flopping and that’s not a good thing for the sport of basketball. Flopping equals cheating in my book.
Q: You are well known by Rockets fans for many reasons, one of which is your sharpshooting ability from beyond the arc. If you placed yourself on this Rockets team, how many players can you beat in a three-point contest?
A: I won my annual 3 point contest with the players this year. I joined Aaron Brooks as the only multiple winner of the contest. We have both won twice in the 9 years I’ve had the contest. I still shoot a lot with my son, so it shouldn’t be surprising. I just wish I could still run my jumper up and down the court!
Q: Where do you see the Rockets finishing this season?
A: The Rockets will need a deep playoff run to gain experience before they will be mentioned around the league as a Finals contender. The team is young, with only Dwight and James with Finals experience. So, realistically, a deep playoff run this season should be considered a success.
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